Shorts 17.3

School Named for Civil Rights Leader

-photo: ©2003 The New Yorker Collection. From All rights reserved.

Bayard Rustin, a controversial civil rights leader and aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will have a Philadelphia-area school named after him.

The suburban West Chester school board voted 6-3 to name the new $63 million high school after Rustin, who graduated from the district in 1931. In December, critics tried to prevent the board from naming the school after Rustin because he once belonged to the Communist party, spent time in jail for refusing to serve in World War II, and was gay.

Rustin, who died in 1987, was one of Dr. King’s key aides in the Montgomery, Ala., boycott and lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. He often conducted his work out of the media spotlight for fear that the public would not accept an openly gay activist.

CASE Erased

Chicago Public Schools decided in December to dump its troubled high school standardized test, the Chicago Academic Standards Exam (CASE).

CASE, which cost more than $1 million to develop, triggered student and teacher protests as far back as 1998, mainly for its poorly written questions. (See Rethinking Schools Vol. 17, #2 for information on teacher resistance to CASE.)

Substance newspaper, which started some of the protest by reprinting parts of the CASE test is still subject to a $1 million lawsuit by the Chicago Public Schools. According to Substance, the CPS has already spent a half million dollars litigating the case.

Testing Lawsuit

Minnesota high school students who were erroneously told that they failed their state graduation exam could receive up to $7 million in a legal settlement announced in December.

NCS Pearson, the testing contractor used to score the exams, used an incorrect answer sheet when scoring the mathematics section, causing some 8,000 students to believe they failed after taking the test in 2000.

Individual settlements will range from a few hundred dollars from freshman and sophomores who spent money on tutoring, to as much as $16,000 to seniors who were denied a diploma.

STD Testing

Philadelphia public high schools will offer students free screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases as part of a citywide health plan to cut the rate of STDs in teens.

After testing showed that girls at two schools in the district were twice as likely as other Philadelphia teens to have chlamydia, city officials estimate that up to 3,000 more could test positive for the disease. Chlamydia mainly goes unnoticed in females and if untreated can cause infertility.

Said school district chief Paul Vallas, “It is an abstinence-first philosophy, and we have to take it up a notch. This is high-risk behavior and there are consequences.”

Bullying vs. Terrorism

A recent study done by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) revealed that students are far more concerned about being bullied in school than they are about terrorist attacks on their school.

The survey of 512 kids ages 12 to 17 by Wirthlin Worldwide found that exposure to bullying increased considerably in this age group, particularly among teen girls.

“When you’re a kid, your school building is like your office,” said 17-year-old Tony Morales. “Imagine being afraid of a co-worker you must see every day. It would be pretty hard to get your work done.”

Group Fights Juvenile Death Penalty

The Juvenile Death Penalty Initiative in Chicago, Ill., a coalition of different social justice groups, is spreading the word of their mission, that subjecting juveniles to the death penalty is wrong and has a negative impact on American moral values.

The group is currently looking for organizations to adopt policies that would help their cause and to contact other organizations, lobbyists, and supporters to push this item on the state and national legislative agenda. For more information, contact Bill Ayers at the University of Illinois-Chicago at 312-996-4508.

Segregation Worst in 30 Years

According to a new report by the Harvard University Civil Rights Project, public schools in the United States are re-segregating, leaving a vast gap in resources and opportunities between white and non-white communities.

The study showed that currently, one-sixth of the nation’s Black students are educated in schools and districts that are almost completely non-white. The proportion climbs to one-fourth for students in the Northeast and the Midwest.

“What students need to realize is that they are living through a period like the end of the Reconstruction when rights of minorities in the country are being interpreted away by our courts,” said Gary A. Orfield, the author of the report, “and in which the country is moving toward greater inequality and more reinforcement of economic and social privilege.”

The report also found that Latinos are the most segregated group, due to language barriers and dropout rates.

Students Strike for Books Not Bombs!

The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC) is calling on students on campuses all over the U.S. to join them on March 5, 2003, for a one day student strike against the war in Iraq.

As students and youth, the future of this country, you are invited to come help call attention to the inequities plaguing our country; why there is money for bombs, but not books; why innocent Iraqi women and children will be killed for control over an oil supply. A student walkout is your way to declare your opposition to the war and to freeze or lower tuition and fees at our universities. For more information, see